14. May 2014 · Comments Off on Recordings Compare To Live Performances · Categories: Ramble

I have had students who have been shocked at the imperfection in live music performances. I have one student who, when I told him that even the musicians in the top orchestras do make mistakes, was absolutely amazed. His jaw dropped. Really. This has to do with several things (and more, I’m sure).

Most of my students don’t attend live concerts!

Yep. Sad, but true. Some have told me they don’t like classical music. Others are so busy they can’t (don’t? won’t?) make the time. Others are interested only in playing the oboe, but not hearing it. “I like to PLAY it, but I don’t like to HEAR it!” Hmm. What DOES that say? They never listen to themselves? 😉

All of those reasons frustrate me and make me sad. (One has said, “I think I’ll like classical music when I’m older!” … and he reads this blog so he’ll see that. THAT does make me smile. I understand. Really I do! And at least he’s allowing for change.)

Some students listen to recordings only.

Unless it’s a recording of a live performance, or a recording made quite some time ago, a recording is most likely going to be perfect, or at least nearly so. Mistakes will be repaired. Even the one botched attack can be fixed. When I was working on something at Skywalker Ranch (the one and only time I had the joy of doing so) I learned how all of that works. There was a person from Sony listening to us and that listener heard everything that needed repair. One of our singers was having an off day and he came back into the studio days later on his own to redo his part. Everything can be fixed.

While a recording like that is marvelous to hear in so many ways, it gives so many listeners a false idea of what a performance might be like. We are not computers. We aren’t always perfect. And we can’t do it again. Shoot, we don’t even have the opportunity for four balls and three strikes. We make a little mistake (or MONUMENTAL blunder … it’s happened to me and I STILL grieve over one of those … sigh) and we can’t hold up a sign that says, “Do Over Please!” or “Do you know how HARD that darn solo is?” We just have to keep going.

In a studio we’d simply stop, moan about our mistake maybe, and fix it.

I really want the recording that is connected to this video below, but DO note the change of clothing with one male singer (start at 2:10 and watch it!), even though it appears it’s all one take if you just listen. It’s a good example of studio work.

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